The Pacific Islands were the last major geographic region settled by humans. The physical remains of these settlers, who probably arrived within the last 4500 years, are rare. At the Chelechol ra Orrak site in the Palau archipelago of Micronesia, the discovery of a cemetery dating to near 3000 BP presents an opportunity to examine what portends to be a large sample of the earliest peoples to inhabit the western Pacific. This report is intended as an introduction to the human skeletal remains recovered to date and a preliminary analysis of the skeletal biology and paleopathology. Although quite fragmentary, analysis reveals a mortuary sample that includes neonates through aged adults and a pathology profile with examples of degenerative joint disease, porotic hyperostosis, and spondylolysis. Though in the early stages of investigation, the cemetery at Chelechol ra Orrak has great potential to aid our understanding of the biological relationships and health of the early inhabitants of Palau.
Cross-sectional geometry of ancient Jomon femora were analyzed along the whole shaft by means of computed tomography. Comparisons were made with modern Japanese (from the same geographical area as the Jomon people) and recent Germans (of larger body size and from a geographical area distant from Japan). Jomon male femora were significantly larger than those of modern Japanese males along the whole shaft length in cross-sectional area (A), polar second moment of area (Ip), second moment of area around the mediolateral direction (Ix), maximum second moment of area (Imax), and cross-sectional index of radii of gyration (kx/ky). These parameters were about the same magnitude in the Jomon males, as in the German males whose size was large, except for the second moment of area around the anteroposterior direction (Iy), which was smaller in the Jomon bones. Female Jomon femora showed the same tendency but only at the middle part of the shaft. There were allometric correlations between bone length and the geometrical properties. In order to eliminate the influence of size, relative dimensionless properties were calculated by dividing each parameter by an analogue of length, namely A was divided by maximum length squared, and Ip, Ix, Iy, Imax, and Imin were divided by the fourth power of the maximum length. The German femora of both sexes were smaller than those of the Jomon in relative area, relative Ix, and relative Ip. Male Jomon femora contained a large volume of bone substance and were robust against bending moments especially in the anteroposterior direction along the whole shaft when comparison was made with other modern or recent groups. These characteristics are less definitive with female bones. They were caused as a functional adaptation for sedentary gatherer-hunters.
In forensic and anthropological studies, body height is usually estimated from a single regression formula of the population of interest. The aim of this study was to test the accuracy of regression formulae devised for different stature groups (short, medium, tall) within the same population. Our study is based on 242 adult male subjects aged 18.1–44.6 years. Body height, tibia length, and ulna length were measured by standard anthropometric techniques. The subjects were randomly divided into a study group (Group 1, n = 121) and a cross-validation group (Group 2, n = 121). In the first stage of the study, general regression formulae based on ulna length, tibia length, and a multiple equation based on ulna and tibia lengths were created for Group 1, and these equations were tested using the data and actual heights of the Group 2 subjects. In the second stage of the study, stature group-specific formulae were constructed for the same variable(s) (ulna length, tibia length, and both of them). Since the body height of the victims is unknown in cases for which estimations need to be made, Group 2 was categorized according to long bone (ulna, tibia, and ulna + tibia) lengths, using the 15th and 85th percentiles as cut-off points. Each set of group-specific formulae were tested with the cross-validation sample. The differences between the true and estimated heights were evaluated using the paired t-test, and results of the general formulae were compared with those of each of the stature group-specific formulae. Our results suggest that stature group-specific formulae give more accurate estimates of height, and that this is particularly significant for individuals who are short or tall relative to the average of a population.
Kinship analysis was performed on a Jomon double burial from the Usu-Moshiri site in Hokkaido, Japan, using odontometric data in conjunction with mitochondrial DNA data. Q-mode correlations with respect to tooth crown measurements indicated a low similarity between the two adult female skeletons found from this burial. Moreover, mitochondrial DNA analysis revealed that these individuals were not maternal relatives. Consequently, judging from both morphological and genetic evidence, these skeletons are more likely to have been unrelated rather than consanguineous. This is the first report that provides anthropological evidence for a lack of kinship of skeletons discovered from a Jomon double burial.
The postcanine tooth crowns of late Early Pleistocene Homo erectus from Sangiran, Java, have been considered to be significantly smaller than those of older H. erectus remains of the same region. In this study, the degree of dental reduction in the former was examined by comparing their postcanine crown size with that of various regional groups of recent H. sapiens. The results show that overall crown size and degree of posterior molar reduction of Javanese H. erectus of the late Early Pleistocene was within the range of variation of recent H. sapiens. The position of this H. erectus group in the general trend of dental reduction in Early to Middle Pleistocene Asian archaic Homo is discussed. Implications for the phylogenetic discontinuity hypothesis between H. erectus and H. sapiens in Australasia are presented. In contrast to their reduced crown size, the Javanese H. erectus remains exhibit robust root systems, presumably a primitive retention. This observation indicates that reduction in crown size preceded reduction of the roots during evolution of Homo, at least in the Sunda region.
After a long interruption due to the Pacific War and Malayan Emergency, anthropological research on the foraging populations of southern Thailand and northern Malaysia was resumed with renewed vigor by Thai, Malaysian, and international scholars. However, the link between recent findings and those reported by earlier workers in the region is often not made explicit. One difficulty in constructing a clear linkage is the lack of unambiguous identities or ‘names’ of the foraging groups under investigation. The present paper addresses this problem, examining the ‘names’ of the Sakai and Semang subgroups reported in the literature, evaluating the status of their referents, and discussing the reasons why subgroup names have been obscure.
The Suchey–Brooks system, based on a collection of pubic bones from autopsied individuals in the United States with known ages at death, has gained wide acceptance as a method of estimating age from the morphology of the pubic symphyseal region. While some studies have suggested the influence of population variation on age estimations, there has so far been no study that applied the Suchey–Brooks system to Japanese skeletal materials. In this study, I evaluated the morphology of the pubic symphyseal region in a relatively large sample of recent Japanese skeletal material (n = 416) and derived mean ages and standard deviations for each of the six Suchey–Brooks phases. Results suggested that age estimation by this method is comparatively reliable in individuals up to 40 years of age but less reliable at higher ages. In all six pubic bone phases, differences between the mean ages of the Japanese and the Suchey–Brooks series were less than three years, demonstrating the applicability of the system to the recent Japanese.
A cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine the anthropometric profile and nutritional status of adult Kora Mudis, a tribal population of Bankura District, West Bengal, India, based on their body mass index (BMI). A total of 500 adult (18.0 < age ≤ 65.0 years) Kora Mudis from two villages (Phulberia and Siromonipur, approximately 160 km from Kolkata) were studied. Anthropometric measurements, including height, weight, circumferences, and skinfolds, were measured using standard protocols. BMI was calculated and utilized as a measure of nutritional status. The extent of undernutrition (BMI < 18.5) was found to be very high (52.2%). The frequency of undernutrition was higher in women (56.4%) than men (48.0%), although this difference was not statistically significant. Using the World Health Organization criterion, the prevalence of undernutrition is classified as ‘very high’. In order to fully understand the causes and consequences of adult undernutrition, further research is needed not only among this ethnic group but also on the other tribal populations of India.
Phylogenetically informative binary polymorphisms on the Y-chromosome have become a standard source of markers for molecular anthropology studies. Although several analytical methods are currently available, most methodologies rely on specialized equipment or expensive reagents that research groups with a primarily anthropological focus often cannot afford. Here I present 15 Y-chromosome lineage assays based on a more widely accessible technique—Polymerase Chain Reaction-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (PCR-RFLP). In conjunction with eight pre-existing tests, these validated protocols allow the assignment of unknown men to every major branch of the global Y-chromosome tree, including the 18 haplogroups/paragroups defined by the Y-Chromosome Consortium. While not intended to supplant the high-throughput technologies adopted by advanced research units, these minimal protocols will allow smaller molecular anthropology groups to survey male variation in a broader range of human populations, thereby furthering our understanding of global human Y-chromosome diversity.
The permanent teeth of two individuals from the 10J-45 compound in the Classic Maya site of Copan, Honduras, and the whole skeletons of two individuals from the El Puente site, a secondary Maya center of Copan, were morphologically observed and measured. Preliminary analyses of the well-preserved permanent teeth of the two El Puente individuals show that one is closest to Native South Americans and the other to Native North Americans. Although many human skeletal remains have already been excavated at these two sites, they have not fully been studied. In addition, many other archaeological sites in Honduras also remain to be investigated.
Crown dimensions of the mandibular permanent first and second molars (M1 and M2) were measured and compared between contemporary Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhalese males. Sixty dental plaster casts (30 Sinhalese and 30 Tamil) obtained from university students in Kandy, Sri Lanka, were studied. The crown dimensions investigated were mesiodistal and buccolingual crown diameters, mesiodistal diameters of the trigonid and talonid, and buccolingual diameters of the trigonid and talonid. The results suggest that the Sri Lankan Sinhalese are characterized by smaller mandibular molar crown dimensions and more advanced molar reduction than the Sri Lankan Tamils, and that such size variation and dental reduction are manifested most strongly in the later developing talonid component of the M2.
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